Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Battles and Wars

Ely is two-years-and-almost-two-months old. So, while I try to keep battles to a minimum, it goes without saying that we have our fair share. I do my very best to focus on the "war", even if it means losing some battles. Let me share a couple receent issues with you.

The other day I dressed Elisa in khakis and a purple fleece pull over, but she thought the outfit was lacking a little flare. So, she went into her dress-up drawer and pulled out a pink “bailaelisa” (which means “dance Elisa” in Spanish, but it’s really Ely-ese for any tutu, skirt or dress).

Our plans for the day included YuKids. So, Ely took her nap and we were on our way- bailaelisa and all. I asked her to take the "bailaelisa" off twice, once before we left the house and once as we were getting out of the car. Both times, she answered with a very solid “no”. So, I didn’t push too hard. Ely pranced around the mall with her “bailaelisa" and an extra big grin.

I tell you this to prove that I DO pick my battles. Now, I’ll tell you about a battle I chose to fight: Ely’s bangs!

They were cute and wispy, until she got one of those helmet cuts. Right there, in the hair salon, I decided that the bangs were history and started putting barrettes in her hair (a million times a day).

Well, 25,000 lost barrettes later, I was about to give up. Until, I asked a friend how she got her toddler to wear a barrette. The reply was so beautifully simple and obvious: "I just don't cut her bangs". Um, duh!! If I followed this mom’s advice, I was guaranteed a win! Option one: Her bangs bother her enough that she agrees to the barrette. Option two: I deal with the shag until the bangs grow out.

And so the silent war began. I offered barrettes regularly and she refused. Her bangs are in eyes. She has to tilt her head up to see anything. It isn’t the cutest look I've ever seen, but I am holding out. Perseverance was the name of the game. She doesn't know I can take care of the problem, therefore, there is no strife.

I was relaying my technique to my uncle and he said, “you are not going to win”. When I assured him I would he just repeated himself. Now, I don’t know whether or not he was talking about Ely's hair, but I started thinking about his comment on a level that had little to do with hairstyle...

I think of successful parenting as raising well-adjusted citizen(s) who (gasp!) don't need their parents anymore. Now, hopefully, if parents play their cards right, kids recognize their efforts and sacrifices and enjoy their parents’ company enough to want them around.

If I am being honest, the thought of Ely not needing me anymore breaks my heart just a little bit. I assume/hope that it will get easier as she gets older and pushes away slowly. (Please, do it slowly baby.) But, no matter what, parenting doesn't sound so win-win to me.

Actually, it sounds like I get to pour my heart and soul into someone else's well-being with the best possible result being pride in a job well done- and maybe a grandbaby to cuddle. And the worst possible outcome: well, let's not go there... So, maybe it is true. Maybe I can’t win. But, I hear that “it’s not if you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.” And to these games (bang eradication and motherhood) are worth the fight.